LGBTQ members of the Toronto police and the force’s union want the city to stop funding the annual gay pride parade. They say it is “simply unacceptable” for Toronto to continue to fund an event in which the police are no longer welcome to participate and have been told so.
It is the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter dispute between Toronto’s police force, LGBTQ interest groups and the local chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM). BLM stopped the festivities last summer when they refused to march in the parade with police — who they say demonstrate racial bias in the city. The organizers of the event, officially known as Pride Toronto, eventually sided with BLM over the participation of police officers.
The police union released an open letter Wednesday. It was written by a committee of LGBTQ police officers who said the city needs to pull the $260,000 it annually provides to an event that now excludes some municipal employees — namely police officers.
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, read the open letter Wednesday at Toronto city hall, where he presented it to Mayor John Tory.
“When any city employee, regardless of their job function, is disinvited from an event hosted in the city of Toronto, we feel it is simply a conflict of interest and unacceptable that the city of Toronto remain a sponsor,” he read.
“We can think of no example in Canada where either a public or private employer has been a lead sponsor for an event their employees were asked not to participate in.”
The committee says all police officers would feel betrayed by the city if it continued to support an event that excluded them.
The police service union demand came weeks after a Toronto city councilor also insisted that funding cease until the parade again reflects its “core principals of equity and inclusivity.”
Whether or not the city continues to financially support the parade directly, it will still provide policing, transportation and other routine services for the event.
BLM has affected the participation of police officers in other Canadian cities.